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The Morro Castle

On September 8, 1934 the luxury liner Morro Castle ran aground on the beach at Asbury Park, directly adjacent to the convention center. The 11,520 ton vessel was carrying wealthy passengers from Havana to New York City. The ship, part of the Ward Line, was commissioned in 1930.The Morro Castle had a nefarious reputation, and reports of smuggling of drugs and Cuban rum on board were common. Illegal immigrants were also commonly smuggled into the country aboard the ship.

The final journey of the Morro Castle is shrouded in mystery. While accounts vary, it is known that the ship's captain Robert Wilmott died mysteriously and was perhaps murdered. Shortly thereafter, a fire of unknown origin began and swept through the ship. The ship was about 6 miles off the New Jersey coast, being pummeled by gale force winds when the order was given to abandon ship. Crew members commandeered life boats, leaving helpless passengers on board.

As rescue ships raced to the area (one of which was the USS Arizona, later to be sunk at Pearl Harbor), the ship drifted to shore to land on the beach at Asbury Park. 133 passengers died in the disaster.

Morro Castle Morro Castle Morro Castle

Photos courtesy C.V. (Bud) Norris
Copyright C.V. Norris

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